Most of us have seen the Mitchell and Webb sketch, where a Nazi officer, worried about the skulls on his cap, ends up asking his fellow Nazi officer:
Are we the baddies?
The sketch strikes home because everyone thinks they are a good person, doing good things for good reasons. But sometimes even good people can find themselves doing bad things for bad reasons. Sometimes they can even be its cheerleaders. Until they start to question…
I’m sure the many people who have switched from Labour to Scottish Nationalism think of themselves as good people. But, like Mitchell’s unquiet Nazi, they’re beginning to find themselves on the wrong side of the story.
Today Neil Mackay, published an editorial in The Herald: Scottish independence: You really don’t have to be a nationalist to back it. It should have been titled: A vain attempt to have your cake and eat it.
First, Mackay tries to tell us he’s not a Nationalist (honest!):
I’m not a nationalist, however. You don’t need to be a nationalist – or an SNP supporter for that matter – to favour independence. I’m not alone – there are many like me, I assure you.
I’m not sure who he’s trying to reassure here, but in any case, it’s a logical fallacy. What’s popular isn’t always what’s right. But, let’s see the evidence:
When it comes to politics, I’m avowedly anti-nationalist. I’m an old-fashioned internationalist. I distrust nationalism of all stripes. I’m a liberal-leftie who sees everyone as pretty much the same – so I’ve no time for the exceptionalism that nationalism offers. Just because I was born on one bit of land and you on another, it doesn’t make us different.
I think I’ll repeat that bit:
Just because I was born on one bit of land and you on another, it doesn’t make us different.
So who did this avowed anti-Nationalist internationalist distrustful-of-Nationalists liberal-leftie vote for?
Have I voted SNP in the past? Yes. Do I always vote SNP? Definitely not. Will I vote SNP in the future? It’s highly unlikely. My voting history mirrors that of many readers, I guess. I was a Labour voter. Labour became uninhabitable after the Iraq War. I came to find the SNP an acceptable home for my vote towards the end of the 2000s.
In other words, he used a narrow policy point to reject the whole idea of socialism and turned to brutish Nationalism. But, with a failed referendum behind him and his dreams not working out, he’s started to notice the skulls on the caps:
Firstly, many prominent SNP voices embrace the nationalism I hate – flag-wrapped, bullying, exceptionalist.
You enabled it, mate, by voting for them. And this somewhat begs the question: what is the nationalism you do like?
They cuddle up to extremists online. The tragedy is, I know plenty of really good people in the SNP, some of whom hold high office, but they’re silent.
Why are they silent? Is it because if they speak out they’ll get shouted down by their extremist Nationalist compatriots?
Secondly, I find the SNP in government to be severely lacking. Heath and education are simply not good enough in this country. The SNP, as it often does, talks a good game when it comes to climate change – the most important political concern facing this country – but there’s not enough action. The party has also proposed deeply illiberal policies – like the Hate Crime Bill, and its flirtation with suspending jury trials amid pandemic.
Shock! Man discovers the party he votes for is crap at any other policy except agitating for Separatism. Calling Robin McAlpine.
Thirdly – and worst of all – is the attitude of the party. It’s become sneering of anyone with the temerity to question its authority – as seen from the behaviour towards the press during coronavirus. The SNP from top to bottom confuses questions with attack – mirroring many in the Yes movement. This smacks of fragility, and fragility implies someone isn’t confident in their own position.
Nationalists are authoritarian control freaks? Who would’ve thunk it?
The party is tearing itself to bits in a flurry of civil wars between the Sturgeon and Salmond wings, over ‘woke’ policies, over Plan Bs. The current Salmond inquiry leaves any decent spectator with one overriding opinion: a plague on both your houses. The party has become secretive, complacent, entitled.
Nationalists are secretive and controlling? Really?
It’s also now a vehicle for mediocre careerists who please the hierarchy. Kiss the right ass and you’re in with the bricks, seems to be the current rule of thumb.
Amazing insight. Next you’ll be asking if the Pope is a catholic.
So as I said, you don’t need to be a nationalist or an SNP supporter to back independence.
Wait a minute. So, after all that you’re still going to vote for ‘independence’? But Neil, what is the vehicle for ‘independence’ if it’s not the SNP? Where is this magical non-Nationalist party that will deliver your dreams?
The point Mackay, Gerry Hassan, Robin McAlpine, and other so-called socialist commentators seem to be blind to is that when they view politics through the eyes of a nation that is, by definition, Nationalism. Simply claiming not to be a Nationalist when everything they do and write supports Nationalism isn’t going to wash any more.
Despite their claims, they’re no socialists. They voted for and supported ALL OF THE ABOVE, because they selfishly value the idea of a nation more than reality of our health, education, economy, and the poor. They enabled centralisation, intolerance to questioning and party secrecy. They enabled racist nutters at the border.
If they were socialists, they would have rejected all these things. Socialism is about pooling and sharing of resources, internationalism and equality. Nationalism is about none of those things. It’s an ideology based on selfishness and greed.
They can’t have it both ways. It’s not possible to be both a Nationalist and a Socialist (and if you are for both, we all know where ‘National Socialism’ ends up). You either own it completely, or you disavow it completely.
And one more thing, just like the Nationalism you say you supported for noble reasons, hand wringing now isn’t noble. It doesn’t absolve you of your actions. It’s a feeble attempt to garner credit for having your cake and eating it.
Neil and his compatriots shouldn’t be posing as a tormented souls, while still supporting the ideology that caused the problem. They should be apologizing for the harm they have caused and making amends.
Yes Neil, you are the baddy.
Mark Devlin is the Publisher of The Majority
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